Some Members of Congress are examining foreign affairs funding designated as Overseas Contingency Operations (OCO) because of its possible use for the overseas Ebola crisis, efforts to combat the Islamic State (IS), and other budgetary reasons. Funds that are designated as emergency or OCO are effectively exempt from the spending limits established by the Budget Control Act of 2011 (P.L. 112-25, BCA). Some Members have suggested that this exemption provides agencies with additional budget cushioning and flexibility, allowing their overall funding to exceed the spending caps. Within the Department of State, Foreign Operations, and Related Programs appropriations, FY2014 OCO funds were $6.5 billion, or 13% of the total foreign affairs funding that year. The amended FY2015 OCO request for $7.8 billion represents about 15% of the total foreign affairs request for FY2015. The current OCO level, as provided by the temporary FY2015 continuing resolution (P.L. 113-164, CR), remains at the FY2014 rate for operations through December 11, 2014. It also continues multiyear spending, as well as broad transfer authorities, making its use somewhat flexible. Any further action on the FY2015 budget during the lame duck session may affect OCO levels for FY2015.
Date of Report: November 19, 2014
Order Number: IF00063
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